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Democratic North Carolina U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre will retire in 2014

McIntyre’s decision to step aside will give Republicans a prime opportunity to pick up a House seat

north-carolina mugWILMINGTON, North Carolina (CFP) — Saying it is time for a “new chapter,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre has announced he will not battle to keep a seat he won by just 650 votes in 2012.

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre

“I am grateful to all of the Democrats, Republicans and independents with whom we have successfully worked through nine elections over 18 years,” McIntyre said in a statement announcing his retirement. “My family and I are ready for a new chapter and excited about new opportunities to continue helping North Carolina.”

McIntyre’s 7th district, which takes in the southeastern corner of the state including areas around Wilminton and Fayettevile, was one of five Democrat-held seats in the South that Mitt Romney carried in 2012.

As Romney was clobbering President Obama by 19 percentage points, McIntyre, a member of the House’s moderate Blue Dog Coalition, barely escaped with a victory over Republican State Senator David Rouser.

Rouser is running again in 2014. McIntyre was also facing a potentially competitive Democratic primary against New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, who has criticized McIntyre for not beng sufficiently supportive of the president.

McIntyre is white; Barfield is black. Overall, the district is 30 percent black, which means the black vote could tread close to a majority in a Democratic primary.

Of the five Democrat-held Southern districts that Romney carried, McIntyre is so far the only retirement.

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